To bounce back, French tennis is taking a digital turn



In September 2021, Benoît, in his forties, took his tennis racket out of his closet. Re-dismissed after a break of ten years, this Nantais returned to his sport of heart, accompanying the first steps on the clay of his 8-year-old little boy. Since re-enrolling, he has discovered many changes. In particular thanks to the Ten’Up application, put into service in 2019 by the French Tennis Federation (FFT) for all licensees in France. He found a lot of information there that precipitated his return to competition.

To my surprise, I quickly registered online for two tournaments near my home. Before, I had all the difficulty in the world to know the places and the dates of the individual competitions”, exposes this former classified third series (15/2). Designed as a social network, the application also allowed him to find players of his level. Regular opponents, which he would not have probably not known without this tool”, he observes.

Very busy with his work as an animated film creator and his family life, Benoît juggles between multiple applications to optimize his time: “In this sense, Ten’Up has made my life easier. Because, to resume a sport like tennis, you need to have a little time in front of you. And, to progress, you have to play matches. I’m not specifically chasing the rankings or the performances, but I want to have fun by having the feeling of improving myself”, continues the forties. Since the launch of Ten’UP, the FFT claims 600,000 downloads, more than 200,000 monthly users and 350,000 visits to the application for the month of March 2022 alone.

The emergence of this tool thus coincides with the increase in the number of licensees: 947,000 cards registered in 2021, distributed among the 7,340 clubs in France. “However, it is difficult to say whether this increase in the number of licensees – around 13% – was favored by the Ten’Up application”, tempers Lionel Maltese, sports marketing specialist and lecturer at Aix-Marseille University. Because “during the whole period of covidthe practice of tennis, a sport of distance, without contact, has also been less stifled than other disciplines”, he observes.

The application was nevertheless a priority for the FFT, which saw in it the means of “to respond to changes in the use of practitioners, who are increasingly mobile, and to retain competitors by providing them with the tools necessary for their practice on their smartphones”. But Lionel Maltese, who participated in its development – when he was part of the management team of the FFT -, is already pleading for improvements to be made to this application. “too generalist”.“The content could be refined by the people who are on the ground, in the clubs, he explains. It would be necessary to adapt the information available to the different target audiences, from lambda players to hopefuls. » And create a version intended for tennis teachers, who would benefit from an incomparable statistical tool.

The application could then be very useful in the detection of young talents or for entry into the high level. “In French tennis, which benefits from many financial resources, a good portfolio of clubs and good infrastructure, we lack people who observe players and give them advice. There is potential there to provide data to coaches who are not sufficiently digitally trained.continues the specialist.

Philippe Remy, state-certified coach in Tours (Indre-et-Loire), who accompanies young people in competition, would see an interest in it: “Ten’Up is already a step forward, in the sense that it provides information giving a first idea of ​​the value of an opponent, whose performance, ranking history, we can follow. But these remain fairly sketchy. I imagine we could go further. he observes.

These avenues of reflection do not seem to be a priority for the federation, which has restricted the development axes of the platform to the improvement of “user experience” and targeting “of a younger population through the implementation of ‘gamification’ elements, by offering users offers around their homes or by promoting their practice”. And to continue promoting tennis to the general public.

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